Alliance completes factory inspection

Retailers’ group to double compensation for displaced factory workers

Moinul Haque
A file photo shows workers descending the stairs at a readymade garment factory in Dhaka. Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety, a platform of 26 North American retailers and brands, on Thursday announced that it had completed safety assessment of its listed 601 garment factories in Bangladesh. — New Age photo

A file photo shows workers descending the stairs at a readymade garment factory in Dhaka. Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety, a platform of 26 North American retailers and brands, on Thursday announced that it had completed safety assessment of its listed 601 garment factories in Bangladesh. — New Age photo

Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety, a platform of 26 North American retailers and brands, on Thursday announced to double compensation benefits for workers from two months to up to four months wages for those displaced as a result of factory remediation.
The Alliance on Thursday has already completed safety assessment of its listed 601 garment factories in Bangladesh and 3 factories have been shut as per their recommendations where they found serious structural faults.
Sources involved with the inspection process said that during the inspection, the Alliance found serious structural faults in 1.45 per cent factories.
The retailers’ team referred a total of 9 factories to the government set review panel comprised of representatives from the government, Accord, Alliance, BUET, BGMEA and BKMEA, suggesting for evacuation where the retailers’ inspection teams got critical findings.
Out of nine, the review committee has suspended production at three units, partially suspended operation at four factories and the decisions on rest two factories remained pending, the sources said.
The closed factories are RSI Apparels Ltd, Bay Fashions Ltd and MAM Apparel and Textiles Ltd.
The owners of the three factories are on the process to relocate their units, the sources said.
Alliance in its statement said that in May the retailers’ group began disbursing funds directly to workers displaced as a result of factory closures in a partnership with factory owners.
‘Ensuring that no garment worker has to put himself or herself at risk to earn a living is our top priority, but we believe protecting and supporting workers must go hand in hand,’ said Ellen Tauscher, Alliance independent chair and former US congresswoman.
The Alliance is committed to ensuring that while factory safety improvements are made, workers are not expected to pay the price, she said.
The Alliance has paid 50 per cent of two months wages to more than 1,000 displaced workers of three closed factories.
The Alliance started inspection in the garment factories from February this year and found some common faults in the factories like overloading, weakness of columns and beams, lack of fire doors, insufficient fire exit, unplanned electrical wirings and absence of sprinklers.
‘The primary safety assessment in the garment factories has been completed and now we will go for remediation programme. We have sent corrective action plan to the 240 factories stipulating a timeframe,’ the Alliance executive director M Rabin told New Age.
The remediation plan will have to be provided to all factories and the alliance will follow up the progress of work from time to time, he said.   Rabin said that most of the factories lack fire doors while some of the factories lack fire-proof walls and automatic fire alarm systems.
Only 8 per cent of the total factories require  auto sprinklers—the number of the factories might be 40-45, he said.
‘Due to closure of three factories, about 1,000 workers were displaced and the Alliance shared 50 per cent of the total amount of compensation for those jobless workers,’ Rabin said.
After the Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garments workers, in April last year, North American retailers including Walmart and Gap, on formed the Alliance undertaking a five-year plan, which set timelines and accountability for inspections and training and workers empowerment programmes.
At the same time, the EU retailers formed Accord on Fire and Building Safety to improve factory safety in Bangladesh.
The Accord has launched its inspection of around 1,600 factories in February.
The initiative has so far inspected more than 800 garment factories and closed 15 factories due to critical structural faults.
The rest of the garment factories will be inspected by the National Tripartite Committee with the support of International Labour Organisation.
The NTC has so far inspected 282 factories and closed two factories.



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